Saying is better than not saying
By Ruth Goring
1. Last night a couple of church friends and I
were at the Chicago O’Hare protest against the Muslim ban and the border wall.
It was beautiful. A young ponytailed Middle Eastern–looking
man led most of the chants; he jumped up and down with manic energy, though his
voice eventually cracked into a piccolo range. He was beautiful.
2. As we prepared to leave, I used the
bathroom and found out that I was bleeding.
3. Early this morning I was still bleeding. I
emailed my boss to request a sick day and went to sleep.
4. When I woke up, I called my medical group
to make an appointment. A nurse asked about my symptoms and said I should see
an ob-gyn within three days. My ob-gyn didn’t have an appointment available
5. Of all the network’s ob-gyns in the city of
Chicago, there was only one, an elderly white male, who had any appointment
times available before March. It was today at noon. I took it.
6. I arrived on time but had to wait a long time after I was taken to a
room, after the nurse came to take my blood pressure, and after she returned to
get the instruments ready.
7. I told both the nurse and the doctor that
this area of my body is extremely sensitive nowadays, that the instrument they
were going to use had caused me great pain a couple of years earlier.
8. The doctor proceeded to do a first check,
sans instrument, quickly and roughly. I cried out, then lay there crying.
9. “Relax your muscles,” he said as he reached
for the instrument. “I can’t relax when it hurts so much,” I wailed.
10. He stopped and pulled back without
deploying the instrument. “OK,” he said. “Get up and get your clothes on after
we leave the room.” I did.
11. He came back and said, “There is always a
plan B.” So now the plan is to do an ultrasound, and if it shows thickened
tissue, they’ll do minor surgery to get what they need for a biopsy. I asked
about sedation and he said yes, they can make it painless.
12. Why didn’t they believe me when I said the
other way would be too painful? Why not start with plan B? Why, after all these years and so many
medical advances, are they still routinely sticking thick, rigid rods into
women rather than developing supple, flexible instruments that could do the job
just as well?
13. Oh. Because older white men.
14. (Last time I had a mammogram, the
technician did tell me that machines with curved lines are finally on their
15. As I drove to get a few groceries, the
news came on my radio. American consular officials in various embassies around the
world have sent a message to the White House explaining that the directive to
stop and deport refugees and visitors and immigrants from seven Muslim
countries is creating ill will, that ISIS is cheering, that the US will be
forfeiting many economic benefits from its immigrants.
16. Later as I headed home, the news was back on. The
White House sent a message back: conform to the directive or give up your job.
17. I turned off the radio, overwhelmed with
sadness. I thought of an old friend of my parents who has been dogging my
Facebook posts, those where I express my political beliefs and concerns most
passionately, and arguing relentlessly. Never with the slightest acknowledgment
of common Christian faith, or of any common ground at all. With no grace. I
have tried to be respectful and focus on the topic at hand.
18. Yesterday I called on people in certain
states to be in touch with their senators in opposition to the appointment of
Betsy DeVos. This old friend, a resident of one of those states, said thank you, I will call to ask mine to support DeVos.
19. I thought about married friends who may
have to forgo a trip to see the husband’s family. His homeland isn’t one of the
seven, but it is a Muslim-majority country. He is Christian.
20. I thought about the bleeding. At least the
doctor did retreat to plan B, because I yelled.
21. The bleeding seems to have petered out for
now. I am home now, decaf Constant
Comment. I have an appointment very soon for the ultrasound.
22. I sent the old friend a polite PM about
her impoliteness; I said I need a break. Then I blocked her.
23. I will keep yelling.
Ruth Goring’s poetry collections are Soap Is Political (Glass Lyre, 2015) and Yellow Doors (WordFarm, 2003); her children’s picture book Adriana’s Angels / Los ángeles de Adriana (Sparkhouse) came out this fall. Ruth’s poems have appeared, or will soon, in RHINO, New Madrid, Crab Orchard Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Aeolian Harp 3, CALYX, and the anthology Misrepresented People: Poetic Responses to Trump’s America (NYQ Books). She edits books at the University of Chicago Press and teaches an editing course at the Graham School for Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies.